Everything you need to know this year to take on the 10 Common Thanksgiving Problems and How to Solve Them by using this handy free Thanksgiving Planner Printable. You will be organized and able to avoid the common pitfalls with these worksheets.
If you are hosting Thanksgiving for a family of three or 23, this Thanksgiving Planner will make this special dinner go off without a hitch! You will enjoy the season with friends and family while creating a meal that everyone will remember – all stress free!
The biggest Thanksgiving Problems you want solved are listed out below. Which ones have you had in the past or which ones do you foresee yourself having now?
🦃 How Big of a Turkey to Buy
No matter how big of a Thanksgiving meal you are hosting, you will need to know how much turkey to purchase so everyone has enough and there is plenty for leftovers. I included a sheet in your planner that is a great cheat sheet for calculating this. Just look up the number of people you expect for dinner and the worksheet will give you the recommended weight of the bird. It’s so convenient!
🍲 Side Dish Serving Sizes
This is so stressful but it doesn’t need to be. I included a worksheet that provides guidelines of how much cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and dessert you need for the number of guests you are expecting. All of the guesswork is taken out of this for you. Of course, if you have teenage boys, you may want to increase the recommended servings! 😆
🍗 When To Remove the Turkey from the Freezer
The basic rule is one day for every four pounds of turkey. If you have a 12 pound bird, it will take three days in the refrigerator to defrost. Leave it in the wrappings and put it in a large bowl or 12×9 baking dish to hold any juices that may drip so it doesn’t make a mess. If you don’t have anything big enough, stop by the dollar store and pick up a disposable aluminum pan to put it in. There is no need to spend a lot of extra money this time of the year.
If you plan to brine it, back up the defrosting schedule to give you time to brine.
Butterball has a great calculator here if you want to double check the math!
❄️ How to Defrost a Turkey – At the Last Minute
It’s happened to me before, and I am sure it will happen again! With all the hustle and bustle, I forgot to take the turkey out of the freezer. There is a trick to quickly defrost it so you can keep everything on schedule.
A Cold Water Defrost is the solution.
Fill the sink with cold tap water (never to use warm or hot water or it can start accelerating bacteria growth quickly!). Place your turkey in the water and change out the water every 30 minutes to make sure that the water remains cold.
Defrosting will take about 30 minutes per pound. So, if you have a small 10lb bird, it will take five hours to defrost the turkey from a fully frozen state.
⚠️ Warning: Don’t ever leave it on the counter to defrost or defrost in hot water as both can cause quick bacteria growth.
👩🍳 How Long Do I Cook a Turkey
This worksheet will guide you through all that you need for cooking a stuffed or unstuffed bird this Thanksgiving. This information will guide your entire cooking day. Check this one out ASAP!
⏲️ Cooking Schedule
Knowing when to cook so everything comes out warm at the same time is every Thanksgiving hosts’ dream. I included a blank cooking schedule for you to fill in. Plug in your recipes, spend some time analyzing how long each will take to prepare and cook, and start filling in the time slots.
For instance: If dinner is planned for 4pm and my cranberry sauce takes two hours to assemble and cook, I would schedule the cranberry sauce in the 2pm slot on the worksheet.
🧺 How to Create a Thanksgiving Menu
It can be tough to make a menu for Thanksgiving when you have guests. We all want special dishes and the day can get crazy in no time. Use the menu planner worksheet to document everything you need to create the most memorable Thanksgiving for you and your family. Include your favorite dishes and ask family and friends to contribute their ideas.
🛒 How to Not Overbuy
This can be tough this time of year because everything looks so amazing and the marketing at the supermarket is at its peak to lure us all to buy, buy, buy. You can reduce the chance of overspending by sticking to the Shopping List worksheet. Once you have created your menu, write down everything you need at the store (go through your pantry first!) and create that shopping list. Then shop alone to get the most out of your time and limit the extras that are put into the cart when family tags along. That doesn’t only happen to me, right?
🥧 Baking List
Use the Thanksgiving Planner Baking List to write down everything you plan to bake. Make sure to include these on your timeline sheet and plan out when you need to bake.
I have some recipes that are baked and then store really well in the freezer. I plan those out for baking earlier in the month and write them down on the November Calendar sheet. This gives a full view of the month and helps you plan well in advance.
❤️ Be Prepared for Your Guests
When hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, it’s best to think through all the little details in advance. I included a guest list worksheet for you to include all of your invitees. Check them off when the RSVPs start rolling in.
Once you know how many people will come, you can start planning drinks, appetizers and entertainment while everyone is hanging around. The worst Thanksgivings are when the host forgot to provide entertainment.
You can always stream music in one or two rooms, a movie in a different room for the kids and offer up some cute, easy and quick games like Thanksgiving Mad Libs, Name Five, TrueBalance and balls and such for outdoor energy. Look in your game closet and find some games that encourage conversation.
If you are worried that you are bringing people together who don’t know each other, look for games like Table Topics that will get people engaged and talking.
The evening before, make sure to do a full cleaning of bathrooms. Make sure to provide a good supply of toilet paper and even provide a little Poo Poo Spray (you can make your own here for pennies!) so your powder room always smells fresh. If you need to do a full on Speed Cleaning, print out the Speed Cleaning Checklist from our sister site.
📥 Get the Thanksgiving Planner
There you have it, my friends! Thanksgiving planning is all set and ready for you! Simply enter your email and I will send it to you right away.
Let me know how it worked for you and if there were pages you wish we covered in it. We are always open to adapting and adding more when readers need it.